President Michael D. Higgins will thank members of the country’s largest union, SIPTU, in Sligo this morning for the essential services they provided during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The occasion is SIPTU’s biennial national delegate conference, which is scheduled to be addressed by the President at 11:40am.
President Higgins has been a lifelong union member and his lengthy speech this morning is being eagerly awaited, if for no other reason than the array of changes and challenges facing workers in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ocean FM News understands he will speak about those challenges, and the opportunities facing the trade union movement and its members.
In relation to new ways of working, he will say what is at stake is negotiated practical agreement in how work and workers’ rights are best protected.
And he will point out that in addition to HOW we work, the past two years have also seen workers rethink WHY they work, and what we most want to do with our careers and lives.
The President is expected to point out that not all of the trends resulting from the pandemic can be seen as positive from a labour and trade union perspective.
He will also speak about the prevalence of poverty among those who ARE working and the growing phenomenon of the ‘working poor’, with low paid, temporary and insecure jobs creating a new poverty trap.
The President will tell delegates that now is a good time for an all-out effort to be made among unions to drive up membership among workers in sectors that are traditionally less-well represented by union membership, such as technology, pharmaceuticals — and those in the so-called gig economy who, he will say, have been effectively ignored.
And in what is expected to be a rousing conclusion to his speech, President Higgins will declare that there never was a more appropriate, more exciting time to be part of the trade union movement.